A Look Back – And a Look Forward


For our friends who didn’t get a copy of our Christmas letter by mail, here it is:

To our beloved friends and relatives, near and far, at Christmas 2017:

All kinds of things happened to us this year, but by far the best event was a doctor’s declaration that Lorraine suffered no damage from a heart attack in May 2015. During the attack, a major artery was completely blocked. Some of this good news is because she got to Barnes Jewish Hospital quickly and because of the top-of-the-line care she received there. We’re giving the glory to God for this unexpected blessing.  As Psalm 91:7 says,  “A thousand may fall at your side. . . .but it will not come near you.” Also, she hasn’t had an asthma attack since January. She’s had some arthritis pain, but is taking seniors pool classes at the YMCA which provide aerobic exercise without pain to her back or joints. Lorraine still does part-time home health care for two elderly men. She lost a three-year friend, Sam, who died in April 2017. Whatever the assignment, she makes friends, as she helps clients stay in their homes. Her duties range from playing checkers with a client to taking him on errands to doing light housework.  It’s the best job she’s ever had.

Meanwhile, Jim’s writing another book. Yawn. He’s finishing interviewing a hundred people, 9 to 109, rich and poor, black and white, about their experience growing up in St. Louis. The book about what he found, Growing Up St. Louis, is set for publication at the start of 2019. Jim was preparing for Christmas signings of his older books when a fire destroyed the warehouse of his publisher, Reedy Press. The loss of those book at an important time of the year was a financial hit at a time he should have been making money selling. Meanwhile, Jim dropped 30 pounds, as both he and Lorraine worked to keep weight off.

Several trips in August and the first half of September left us tired but nonetheless richly blessed for the experience.  After both of us traveled to Atlanta for his sister and brother-in-law’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration, he went with his brother to Corpus Christi, Texas for their uncle’s 90th birthday party. After that, we headed north to spend a week in our favorite vacation place, Bayfield, Wisconsin and Lake Superior’s Apostle Islands. We finished our whirlwind travels with a jaunt to Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, where fellow church members Seth and Shannon Hein hosted us royally for the weekend. It all was wonderful but enough traveling for the year. We celebrated Thanksgiving at home with Jim’s brother Charles and plan to do that at Christmas.

Most importantly, we continued to grow closer to the Lord and Jubilee Church, which we’ve attended since 2014. The leadership and Bible teaching are excellent. We’re hosting a weekly community group, while Jim leads a group that cleans the parking lot before Sunday service. The community group helps us form family relationships within the church that help us follow Jesus more closely. Meanwhile, we are still leading a monthly church service at the Manor Grove Nursing Home. We decided not to bring a pet into our home this year.

We pray that this season you catch what it meant for Jesus to come to earth at Christmas. May you have the best year ever in 2018!.

Love at Christmas,


Jim and Lorraine Merkel


Published by Jim Merkel

Reedy Press published four of my books, Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis's South Side, 2010; Beer, Brats, and Baseball: St. Louis Germans, 2012; The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and the Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch; and the Second Edition of Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis's South Side, 2014. They're available in bookstores and online. For an autographed copy, send a check for $21.50 made out to Jim Merkel, to Jim Merkel, 4216 Osceola St., St. Louis, MO 63116.

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